WTB Soldiers paddle the boredom out of morning PT with water adventure
September 21, 2012
Fear knocked Staff Sgt. Lezlee Coursey out in the first round. But in round two, the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) Soldier left fear on Lake Belton's shoreline while she donned a life jacket, picked up a paddle and met her new friend: an eight-foot, fire-engine red kayak. Her Warrior Adventure Quest (WAQ) had begun, and Coursey was now paddling with confidence alongside 20 of her WTB water battle-buddies.
It was the laughter and missing the fun, the platoon sergeant for WTB's Headquarters, Headquarter Company (HHC) said, that was her catalyst for change. Terrified of water, Coursey said trusting her first sergeant, as well as her life jacket, helped her overcome her fear.
"I knew my first sergeant was looking out for my best interests and didn't want me to be looking on the side of the shore while everyone was having fun and enjoying it. He wanted me to have a piece of that," she said. "It's just like being deployed. You trust him."
Coursey said that after she overcame her fear of drowning, the rest of her WAQ kayaking morning, was a piece of cake.
"It was wonderful," she said, adding that doing something fun and entertaining broke the boredom of routine physical training. "I can do everything the Army wants me to do Monday through Friday, but sometimes you just have to do something different to break the monotony."
This was the third trip on the water for the HHC Soldiers who partnered with WTB's Remote Care Company (RCC) for the team-building event, which HHC commander, Capt. LeVeeta Springer, appreciates.
"Our two companies are separated by distance, so it's nice to have this opportunity to bond. Now we'll feel more comfortable asking for help and support," she said, adding that safety briefings and team support resolved any fears Soldiers had of drowning.
Springer also enjoyed sharing the fun with another company.
"It was just a nice change of pace. Regular PT gets really, really boring so it was nice to be able to have the opportunity to do something different", she said adding that she hadn't realized how tough of a workout paddling would be.
"You may think it would be a peaceful workout with a backdrop of a rising sun and rippling water, but looks are definitely deceiving," she said. "There's no way to get around the fact that you're going to be sore because it really works your shoulders."
RCC 1st Sgt. Raymond Walker first had the idea of incorporating kayaking in the WTB's adaptive PT program when he rented a kayak at BLORA (Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area). Looking for opportunities to incorporate entertainment into the physical fitness regime, Walker contacted WAQ for help.
The Warrior Quest Adventure, which is sponsored by Fort Hood's Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, helps Soldiers reintegrate back into the home front following a deployment. Since it began August 2009, more than 22,000 soldiers have gone through the program, according to Master Sgt. Lenneth Kim, WAQ non-commissioned officer in charge. Besides kayaking, WAQ activities include mountain biking, paint ball, rock climbing and geo gravity.
Although the popular program is only for combat units, Walker was able to nab several space-available opportunities. Besides the three kayaking sessions, the group earlier held a WAQ mountain-biking activity, also at BLORA.
"The Soldiers love it, plus it lets Soldiers know we're thinking of them by looking for different things to do for physical training," he said, adding that the built-in opportunity for team bonding was an added bonus. "We'd do it weekly if we could, but the WAQ calendar is booked through November."
Sgt. 1st Class Roger West also praised the activity for its team-building opportunities.
"We'd paddle up to someone, laugh, then paddle alongside each other for awhile," he said. "It was a great opportunity to build camaraderie."
West, who owns a boat and loves the water, was hesitant at first about being in deep water in a little boat.
"Riding in a boat and kayaking are two different things" the RCC platoon sergeant said, "I was mostly afraid of tipping over and not knowing what to do," adding that he found the experience allowed him to let go any stressors.
"It was 'ah ha moment' really when got into the water paddling as the sun came up. It was very serene," he said. "I got so much inner peace from the experience. I had a very relaxing day and didn't let anything stress me out."
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Reifel, an avid swimmer comfortable in both canoes and kayaks, said he wished kayaking would be incorporated into everyday training.
"Being on the water," the RCC platoon sergeant said, "is a great way to start the day, It relaxes you and gives you time to reflect on yourself. It's very enjoyable."